Parenting magazine features LINK club member
As the representative to Student Senate, LINK student group member Andrea Keller also spoke for the club in a recent article in Central Penn Parent Capabilities magazine, a resource for parents of children with special needs. The winter 2013 article, “Growing Memories One Buddy at a Time,” highlights Keller, a junior early childhood education major, and her “buddy,” Colin Steffie, an Elizabethtown sixth grader with brain development challenges. The LINK student group pairs Elizabethtown College students with children with autism.
Keller and Steffie have been buddies since Keller’s first semester at the College. It’s one of the longest match-ups in LINK history, she said. As a first-year student “I filled out the interest sheet, which is used to match you with someone with the same interests,” Keller said. Her “good fit” was Steffie, who was in the age group Keller requested. “I am interested in early childhood education. He was young,” Keller noted. He also is highly functioning, which means he is independent and, with learning support, attends school at Bear Creek in the Elizabethtown Area District.
I go over to his house after school and help him with his homework. … Sometimes we go to Rita’s or the alpaca farm.”
Keller said that even though her buddy is getting older Steffie still gets excited to see her when she arrives at his home. The buddies get together at least every other week, she said. “I go over to his house after school and help him with his homework. … Sometimes we go to Rita’s or the alpaca farm. We recently made Christmas cards and crafts.”
During breaks and over summer, when Keller goes home to Allentown, she communicates with her buddy’s mom and plans to continue to stay in touch with the Steffie family after she graduates. At that time Keller said she hopes to continue her education in speech therapy or work as a teacher in a preschool. This buddy experience she said gives her an idea of what that will be like. “I’ve always wanted to work with children,” she said. “I’ve always, as long as I can remember, have wanted to be a teacher.”